Health & Science
8:42 am
Sat February 2, 2013

White Nose Syndrome Spreads To Missouri

A bat-killing fungus first found in New York is now in Missouri.

A bat with White Nose Syndrome was confirmed in Crawford County on January 25.

White Nose Syndrome was first found in 2006 and has exploded across the east. Missouri is the westernmost of the nineteen states where scientists have found the disease.

Ann Froschauer is a spokesperson for White Nose Syndrome in bats for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She says the fungus attacks bats during hibernation.

“When the bats go into hibernation, their body process like their breathing and their body temperature and their immune system are all slowed down so that they can make it through the winter hibernating on stored fat reserves,” Froschauer said. “This allows the fungus to sort of take over and colonize these bats and oftentimes causes mortality in hibernating bats.”

Froschauer says there are several species that are impacted by the disease.

“It varies a little bit between the different species that are affected,” Froschauer said. “Some are really significantly affected and have mortality rates in the 95-99% range. And some are not affected quite as significantly with mortality rates in the 40-50% range.”

Caves that have been infected with White Nose Syndrome will typically be closed to humans to help avoid the fungus’ spread. White Nose Syndrome cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals, but travel is often restricted in caves where the fungus is present to limit its spread to new areas.

White Nose Syndrome has killed 5.5 million bats since 2006.